Today I’d like to clear something up. It’s that myth that’s been talked about for years, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” This isn’t true! That would be like you can’t teach an elderly man or woman new things. Older people can learn, and so can older dogs. The truth is we can all learn, and we can all change. People and dogs alike. So no, it’s NOT too late to train your dog.
If you’re reading this article, then it’s likely you’re looking for information on changing your older dog’s behavior. Some dog owners or even dog trainers may say that this is impossible, but professional dog trainer, Doggy Dan, knows it’s totally possible.
He’s seen older dogs’ behavior change – quickly and easily – so many times over the years, that in his mind it’s very possible. In fact, it’s often true that as dogs get older, training can become easier because older dogs don’t have as much energy to misbehave as they did when they were pups!
Potty Training an Older Dog
(If you’re in need of help specifically for potty training an older dog, Doggy Dan has a free tutorial. Click here to check it out.)
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The Online Dog Trainer, created by well-respected dog trainer, Daniel Abdelnoor (known as “Doggy Dan”), is by far the best, and fastest growing dog training website available. Doggy Dan really is the best online dog trainer. Doggy Dan offers a 3-day trial for $1. You can read my review of the online dog trainer HERE.
10 Tricks You Can Teach an Older Dog
This is a list of things that Doggy Dan usually teaches puppies, but you can certainly teach the very same things to older dogs too. So if you have an older dog with any of the following issues, know that there is hope! And often, it’s not even difficult.
This list is in order of priority, with #1 being the most important. We’ll start with #10, then work our way to #1.
#10. Command Training (sit, stay, etc.) The reason this one is being listed at #10 (or the least priority) is because it’s very easy to teach this later on, once you’ve built a solid foundation of training with your dog. But for now, start using some simple commands, using treats to help the progress along. Don’t rush…take it easy.
#9. Grooming (nail trimming, brushing, inspecting the mouth/teeth). If your older dog hates any of these things, you can turn it around with a bit of knowledge and patience. The key thing you have to do prior to trying to teach your dog to tolerate these things is to become the pack leader. If you are, the dog will trust you with pretty much anything. We’ll be talking about pack leader training later in this article. In the meantime, try to make it a positive experience by using treats and praise, and stay calm.
#8. Recall (getting your dog to come when called). This is the most important command of all, because it’s a matter of safety. It could literally mean the difference between life and death for your dog if, for example, he’s running toward a busy street and there’s a car coming, and he won’t come when you call! One of the tricks to getting your dog to come when you call is to use his name only as a positive experience. Meaning, don’t use your dog’s name when you’re upset with him for misbehaving.
They have to think that when they hear their name, something good is going to happen (like a treat or affection). They’ll be more inclined to come when they hear their name if they think something good is coming.
#7. Socialization (experiencing people and places). If you want your dog to be able to go places with you and you want them to be comfortable, say, when people come over, then you have to work on his socialization skills. Starting when their young and remaining calm is the key. But older dogs can also be made to feel comfortable in situations that are not familiar to them, if your patient, start small, and monitor your dog’s reactions to see how he’s coping.
And again, pack leader training will be important here as well. If your dog sees you as the pack leader, he’ll have confidence in you no matter his surroundings.
#6. Being Home Alone (separating anxiety). Our dogs would love it if we never left the house (or at least never left the house without them!) But obviously, that can’t happen. So it’s important that you take the time to make sure your dog feels comfortable being left home alone.
I hate to annoy you with repetition, but again, the best way to solve separation anxiety is to teach your dog to see you as the pack leader – then he’ll be comfortable with you leaving “the den.” But it’s also important not to make drama when you leave (no big farewell!), and don’t make a big deal when you come home. Make it more casual, or “business as usual.”
#5. Behavior With Other Dogs. It’s so enjoyable to watch your dog playing with other dogs. Generally speaking, it’s best to start socializing your dog with other dogs when they’re a puppy. But you’d be surprised how well an older dog can do when 1) he sees his owner as the pack leader (therefore the decision maker as to whether the other dog is friend or foe), and 2) if you are patient and stay aware of how your dog (and the other dog) are reacting. If your dog is aggressive with other dogs, then the pack leader training is even more crucial.
#4. Stop Biting or Mouthing. This is fairly easy to stop when you know how. For example, rather than shouting, “No!” when your dog is biting or mouthing you (that only increases the energy to the situation), it’s better to put them in time-out for a few minutes. They won’t like that consequence and after a few tries, they’ll get the hint that biting and mouthing gets them outed!
#3. Calming Your Dog. It’s important to have a dog who doesn’t over react to situations. If they are overly excited, emotional or stressed, it’s hard to train them. So developing the ability to calm your dog is important. This starts in the house, then expands to when you’re outdoors or away from home with them. Remember that your dog looks to you for guidance (especially if he sees you as the pack leader). So if you want him to remain calm, then you have to be calm.
#2. Potty Training. If your dog is older than six months and still peeing in the house, it’s likely he is “marking.” Doggy Dan covers this, and other possible difficulties with toilet training, on the website.
#1. Becoming the Pack Leader! I know. I’ve mentioned this so many times now that you’re not surprised this is the #1 priority in dog training! Establishing clear leadership with your dog is truly the most important requirement of successful dog training. If your dog does not see you as the pack leader, then every single thing you ever try to do with or teach your dog becomes way harder than it has to be. This is the thing Doggy Dan focuses on most when he does home visits and one-on-one consultations with his clients, whether they have a brand new puppy, an older dog, or a dog with serious behavior issues.
When you make being the pack leader the foundation of your relationship with your dog, everything else falls into place. Without it, you’re on shaky ground and probably experiencing a whole list of issues with your dog.
Inside Doggy Dan’s website, The Online Dog Trainer, you’ll find the videos Doggy Dan has put together to show you exactly how to put this training into place. All of the topics listed in this article are covered, and lots (lots!) more, including footage of Doggy Dan training dogs during his live consultations.
So if you want to know what to do next to start teaching your old dog new tricks, then look no further. Doggy Dan will show you how! It only costs $1 to browse through Doggy Dan’s website and watch videos for 3 whole days. Check it out…you’ll be glad you did!
It’s Never Too Late to Train a Dog
So no, it’s never too late to train your dog. And the sooner you get started, the better. So if you need help improving your older dog’s behavior, sign up for the $1 three-day trial of Doggy Dan’s dog training website.
I promise you’ll end up being a much better dog owner! Not only will you be able to train your dog quickly and easily, in a loving and kind manner, but you’ll also be building an even more meaningful relationship with your dog, full of mutual love and respect. They’re so worth it!
You might enjoy this article, Do You Own Your Dog? (or Does Your Dog Own YOU?) That post talks about getting control of your dog’s behavior, the benefits of pack leader dog training, common mistakes dog owners make. We also talk a bit about how most dogs don’t want to misbehave. I think you’ll find it interesting.
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